The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee has today published and welcomed the Government’s response to their report on the UK’s Nuclear Research and Development (R&D) Capabilities, published in November 2011.
In its response to the report, the Government agree to the Committee’s recommendation that it should publish a long-term strategy on the role of nuclear energy to 2050 and beyond. The strategy will be published in the summer of 2012 and will:
- set out the Governments position on nuclear power’s role in the UK’s energy portfolio to 2050;
- include options to maintain relevant R&D capabilities and expertise to ensure a wide range of nuclear energy approaches are kept open; and
- identify the UK’s potential commercial role in the longer-term global nuclear market.
The Government also accept the Committee’s view that more should be done to coordinate nuclear R&D in the UK and agree to develop a UK nuclear R&D roadmap following the Science Committee’s recommendation.
To support implementation of this roadmap, the Government have also agreed to the Committee’s recommendation that an Advisory Board be established to provide assistance, knowledge and expertise on Nuclear R&D. The Government’s response states that this board will be Chaired by Sir John Beddington, the Government Chief Scientific Adviser.
Commenting on the publication of the Government’s response to their report Lord Krebs, Chairman of the Lords Science and Technology Committee, said:
“The Government has taken on board our serious concerns about the lack of long-term planning for the UK’s nuclear energy future. Nuclear is going to play an increasingly important part in the UK’s energy mix and it is vital that the Government have thought carefully about what R&D capabilities will be required to ensure that the UK is in a position to meet future energy needs.
“We welcome the Government’s commitment to develop a nuclear strategy which will include a roadmap for R&D overseen by an Advisory Board. That will be important in ensuring the Government has access to the best advice based on the knowledge and understanding of people with internationally recognised nuclear expertise.
“Whilst the Government have responded positively to our report, as ever, the devil will be in the detail. We will assess the Government’s strategy when it is published and my Committee will wish to return to this issue in the future.”